Thursday, January 31, 2013

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

I think I have answered this question honestly, truly believing my answer to be a correct reflection of where I saw my future, many, many times.

The first thing I clearly remember wanting to be was a mom. I was duly informed by my friend that a ‘mom’ wasn’t exactly something you wanted to be. You had to pick a job that you went to everyday, and complained about around the supper table every night. Being a mom, in our eyes was akin to having blue eyes. You just were, now get on with your life and… what do you want to BE??

I watched a lot of TV as a kid, and I really, really loved watching ER. There was a female doctor who was pretty, and had great hair. Obviously I felt like it was a sure sign this was my destiny. It didn’t matter that I closed my eyes during the bloody scenes. I could totally wear those green clothes and remember long, complicated names for things. Plus, if that’s what all the boy doctors looked like, I was sold.

By grade nine I had realized that having a slight aversion to blood, bodily fluids, and anything remotely unpleasant to my nose, meant my career as a doctor needed to be halted. This is when I discovered Marine Archaeology. Oh yes, after an all encompassing “Titanic” addiction, obviously I was going to dive to ship wrecks all over the world and find artifacts exactly like that big ‘ol diamond necklace. And obviously Leonardo DiCaprio would be recast in my future as my equally-as-interested in Marine Archaeology boyfriend. In my defense, the fact that I even knew what Marine Archeology was, is fairly impressive.

Well, after I realized my career as a Marine Archeologist was doomed before it started, being that I lived pretty much as far away from any sort of marine destination as humanly possible (perhaps those in central Africa may hold that distinction, but as a 15 year old in Saskatchewan I was pretty sure we were further), I decided that I should probably just focus on Archaeology. I promptly watched ALL of the Indiana Jones movies and decided if all I needed was a bull whip, and dorky hat and some great one liners, I was a shoe in for the job. This passion I harbored for awhile until my guidance counselor told me that I needed to take more science classes, as a degree in Archeology was essentially a science degree majoring in Archaeology. This, as the already-established judgy person that I am, must be pointed out to be false. I’m very glad the person guiding my future was so informed.

But taking all blame off of the student-guidance counselor I should make it be known that shortly thereafter I came upon what I felt was the final answer. Journalism. How had I missed it this whole time?? Coming into the last few years of high school I finally had something to work towards. I wrote, what was obviously a well researched, insightful article, on just how tough cheerleading was. I interviewed my fellow cheerleaders, and had no problem using the school paper to push my political agenda. Cheerleading for all!! The right to spontaneously burst into group cheer!! Respect for the girls with the poms!! Well, let’s just say I wasn’t unanimously lauded as a revolutionary by my peers. However, you couldn’t kill my journalistic voice. Through a contact of teachers who supported my new found goal, I spent the day with the local CBC team. I had been accepted to Mount Royal in Calgary, known for its journalism program, as well as U of R, which had one of the best University programs in the country. I was hoping to gain some insight from these professionals on where to enroll. I went out first with the parliamentary reporter, who at the time was David Common (side note.. he’s kind of a big deal on CBC now). I quickly realized that perhaps my 17 year old brain wasn’t quite evolved enough to specialize in political news, since all I could really focus on was how grown people could sit in the legislature, hardly listening, talking over each other, and just about falling asleep. Well, actually even my 29 year old brain can’t quite compute that. Nevertheless, I got to talk with the local anchor who told me to definitely head to U of R for my journalistic ambitions. I also found out they wouldn’t instantly put me on camera, and that I couldn’t just read the news, I had to actually write it too. In preparation for what I was still sure was going to be an on camera career, I began Pre-Journalism at the University of Regina.

I lasted one semester in pre-journalism. I blame, what I now recognize, as cut-throat fifth year students who read Ad Buster and were just.. soo alternative. I wrote for the University paper and realized that I couldn’t hack it with these people. While my writing was certainly up to par, I couldn’t pretend I didn’t care about cheerleading, and hockey, and horses, and things that made me feel like a continent away from these uber cool hipsters. I transferred out into ‘undeclared’ territory.

After flirting with the Education faculty, I decided to get my BA in History, as it was sort of the only thing that stuck. Let me tell you, I stuck out like a sore thumb in my “History of Warfare” and “World War Two” classes. The classes were a mixture of guys ( yup, mostly all guys and me!) where I felt half may be building their own bombs in their basement, and half were just downright brilliant. I loved the discussion and flourished in the environment. I felt at home with fellow nerds. I even went to a few of these classes instead of bumming notes off those that were more concerned with attendance.

At this point of my story I’ve run into another one I’ve told many times before. I didn’t have long to wonder what the heck I was going to do with a History degree, because before I had a chance to apply for jobs that had nothing whatsoever to do with my degree, I found out I was pregnant with Ben.

Since having kids, and wandering Saskatchewan and now Alberta with my husband (who, by the way, has always been very definite in what he wanted to do. First he got his Kinesiology degree, then applied to the RCMP and planned on being a physiotherapist had that not worked out. How darn sensible he is. They say opposites attract), I have worked a few different ‘jobs’ in between the kids, and just before I had Grady I finally found somewhere I seemed to fit. For the first time in my working life I think the widest range of my abilities are being utilized.

But I still fantasize about something more. I still have this insane narrative swirling in my brain, the narrative which after all these years I have realized, is burning to tell stories. All my failed attempts at finding that one ‘thing’ that I could do for the rest of my life made me feel like a giant failure for most of it. I’ve always been a person that is incapable of doing anything less than 1000%, so I knew that if my heart wasn’t in it, neither would I be for very long. So here I am. Full circle. Looking back into the face of the 10 year old who created a fantasy world around a job. The 14 year old that vividly pictured a world full of mysteries, and beauty, and unknown things, who in her impatience at waiting to see it, created it in her mind. This whole time I’ve been living inside my head creating a story within a story. So, I guess the most logical thing to do is to embrace the one thing that I’ve never been able to get away from… my overactive, can’t shut it off, wake Mike up in the middle of the night with a story idea, brain. If I could only talk to Oprah, I feel like she would tell me this was an aha moment. Albeit a slow one, but one nonetheless. Now I just need to get a book deal.. maybe a 7 figure contract based on a couple chapters. Just, you know, to make sure I don’t suck.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Parenting 101

I can be judgy, it’s something I think I should probably work on, but I feel like it’s an inherent trait of someone who is a naturally curious person. Let me explain.

While yes, I will judge you for blatant disregard for grammar on both online social networking sites, and emails, I won’t be judgy as in ‘oh my god you look like a hot mess’. Well…ok, I kind of will, but I will also verbalize these feelings aloud, and to your face.

Anyways, what I really mean is that as soon as I hear something stated as fact, or written as advice I instantly judge the statement, and therefore try to disprove it. It’s why in Grade 7 I sent a science teacher to his early retirement.

So you can imagine my amusement when I flipped through a parenting magazine my mother in law gave to me on the weekend. (*Disclaimer- she owns her own business and has a wide variety of family friendly publications in her business, and just happened to be mailed two copies. I am in no way inferring she gave me a parenting magazine in a sneaky under handed ‘you could use this’ way. Wait…. ) Back on point, in a nutshell.. what a load of complete bullsh$t.

Shall we start on the cover??

Most of it I didn’t take offence too, and then my eyes wandered to the giant

“SEX SURVEY” Sub titled “How do you compare?”

with the article directly underneath titled

“How to Worry Less!”

Tell me it’s not just me. Tell me that you all as smart, educated confident women didn’t just read those two titles and not see the disparity worth mentioning?? How did this slip by the editor? As I read through the magazine I kept reminding myself that this was pitched at me. I am the perfect, exact demographic they are hoping to hook as readers. While I will give their recipes an A+, the magazine basically felt like a one way ticket into feeling less confident about my parenting, more worried about what I should be doing that I am currently not, and gave me more ideas for things I can buy to become an even BETTER parent. Please..

Most of you who know me will not be surprised by my thoughts on parenting books and magazines. I just wonder reading excerpts from these books and magazines where our own intuition and common sense come to play? In the generation of self help, parenting books I think we can argue that our kids are certainly not outdoing the previous generation. Maybe, just maybe this has something to do with our own innate instincts, and God given decision making power, being handed over to a step-by-step “Sleep through the night” “Potty train in one day” “No more whining” “Happiest Kid Ever” generation. Now we have counter articles swirling around social media about “Getting in the picture”, “Stop pretending to be Perfect Pintrest Mommies”, and “Things no one ever told me about having a baby” that are aimed at telling you how NOT being the perfect mom, is indeed, BEING the perfect mom. Please, women of the world, stop!

Yes, read your little heart out, connect to what you connect with, or use the books to prop open the basement window in the summer. Make all the over-the-top cupcakes you want, or head to the nearest bakery! Take the advice of whichever books you prefer but please, please do our kids a favor and sometimes just do what your gut tells you to do. If it’s letting your baby cry for a few minutes, never letting them cry ever, or standing in the shower with the fan on drinking a glass of wine and pretending there are no kids.. do it! If you want your kids to remember you as they saw you every day, click away!! If you want to have your picture taken at only approved times, let your friends know so they don’t tag you on facebook leaving you to sneakily remove the tag in a few days! And don’t be ashamed. And sometimes, maybe go out with your friends and have an HONEST conversation about how crappy your kids were today, or maybe how awesome they were. Or about how much you do not have your act together, or maybe you’re able to be super mom. Or even laugh about how you forgot your oldest at school until the office called.. or maybe how you are always the first one at the class to get the kids! Whatever!

What I’m saying, is that in previous generations women got together, took advice from each other (another mom telling me “this helped me with my oldest” will ALWAYS hold more weight than when I hear “I read” or “They say”) laughed, probably judged, but remembered one of the oldest proverbs “It takes a village to raise a child”. It takes all kinds of moms to raise a generation of caring, educated, engaged, slightly humorous children. Pretending to be perfect, or admitting to not being perfect so therefore pretending to be perfect, needs to end. Be who you are, parent how you feel, and maybe, just maybe we will all have perfectly well adjusted happy children…. but probably not.